The announcement that the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra had selected Andrew Sewell to be its new music director seemed to me the best choice after his performance in the final event of the year-long search process. On my own scorecard, I had placed Sewell third of the three candidates on the basis of their trials during the "Concerts On the Square" series, where he seemed rather ill at ease in the frankly circus-like ambience of the outdoor summer concerts. But in the indoor winter-season concerts, neither Kirk Muspratt nor Elizabeth Stoyanovich proved nearly as strong as Sewell musically or technically.
The selection is a major organizational and artistic turning point for the WCO following the long tenure of David Lewis Crosby. From a critical point of view, I think it's encouraging that Sewell's good showing in the indoor concerts was probably decisive; this suggests that the WCO, while depending on the income and publicity the summer series generates, intends to emphasize the more challenging and artistically rewarding formal concerts as its primary mission.
Isthmus, February, 2000
Copyright 2000 Jess Anderson